The Obama administration on Friday called for the U.S. Supreme Court to declare the federal government’s 1996 ban on same-sex marriage benefits unconstitutional, saying “gay and lesbian people have been subject to a significant history of discrimination in this country.”
U.S. Solicitor General Donald Verrilli’s legal brief urges the court to uphold a federal appeals court ruling that found the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional. The administration’s position was not unexpected because it has already expressed its legal position in challenges to DOMA, including in a case involving a San Francisco couple.
But the legal brief marked the first time a president has endorsed same-sex marriage rights in the
Supreme Court. Administration lawyers expressed particular concern about federal law denying equal benefits to couples legally married in states that permit same-sex nuptials, including New York, where the case before the Supreme Court has unfolded.